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Cries And Whispers [1972] [DVD]

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Anders Ek
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Writers: Ingmar Bergman
  • Producers: Ingmar Bergman, Lars-Owe Carlberg
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Feb. 2002
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005V4WU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,665 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

DVD Special Features: Star and Director Filmographies
Scene Selection
Philip Strick Film Notes
Extract from 'Bergman's book 'Images-My life in Film'
The Bergman Collection Trailer

Language: Swedish Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English
Video Aspect Ratio: Letterboxed 1.66:1

From Amazon.co.uk

Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers is a brilliant and at times shockingly traumatic piece of chamber cinema. It also represented a renaissance for Bergman, whose previous few films had flopped commercially. Set in a large house with interiors done out entirely in a disquieting red and against a soundtrack of ticking and barely audible chatter, the film features three of Bergman’s female stalwarts. Harriet Andersson plays Agnes--a thirtysomething woman dying of cancer--Ingrid Thulin plays her sister Karin--non-tactile and caught in a marriage with a man she finds physically repulsive--and Liv Ulmann is the almost childishly sensual second sister Maria. Kari Sylwan, meanwhile, stars as the earth-motherly maid Anna, whose cradling of the dying Agnes against her naked bosom is one of the centrepieces of the movie.

Much of what transpires here can be construed as fantasy sequence, including one extraordinary incident in which Thulin cuts her vagina with broken glass and smears the blood over herself, in order to avoid sex with her husband. Agnes’ unbearable cries of anguish in her death throes, however, are all too real. Many familiar Bergman themes are explored in Cries And Whispers--mortality, the existence of God (here doubted by a Pastor) and the space between people. However, they are set against a singular, blood-red, dreamlike ambience that is irresistible. This is Bergman at his finest.

On the DVD: the dominant red backdrops of the movie are richly enhanced in this edition. Text-only extras include notes from Bergman’s own memoirs. In a lengthy extract here, he reveals that he had considered Mix Farrow for the part of one of the sisters. Philip Strick’s additional notes add further context and background--it seems that the film’s success in America was due to its distribution by, of all people, Roger Corman. --David Stubbs

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 May 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film strikes me as being quintessential Bergman in its themes and unvarnished presentation of the human condition. I have to say, though, that for all its depth, I find the picture too skewed in favour of misery and negative emotions. Do the sisters played by Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Thulin have to have quite such a depth of resentment towards each other? And would the moribund state of the third sister really bring all this to the surface as it does, even as she lies dying? The final scene, by contrast, is absurdly idyllic, as if the aesthetic of the director demands these extremes, like a Romantic landscape of impossibly high mountains and unfathomable lakes that a 19th century German painter might depict. My biggest reservation is with the indescribable suffering of the dying woman that is presented so graphically. I always hate being forced to see extremes of suffering on screen, as we cannot stop it, and it is serving the interest of an artistic vision and is hence being calculated in a wider aesthetic. These sequences are awful to sit through. I won't deny that the view of the world is deeply etched into the metal plate that gives us the final picture, and I admire his unflinching gaze, but I do question whether this is the 'ultimate' truth of our relation to others as many claim it to be. Bergman's vision is fascinating but in film after film the negative dominates and then he twists the knife ... he is comparable to Michael Haneke, in a sense, who is relentlessly negative also. But whereas Haneke is ice-cold, Bergman presents us with startling, very warm reds in this film; visually there's no denying that it has tremendous impact.
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A highly thought-provoking film with brilliant performances and exceptional production design.
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Upon its release CRIES AND WHISPERS was hailed as one of Bergman's finest films. Although it has not quite held onto that original evaluation, it remains an excellent film--a subtle and delicately performed drama as remarkable for its silence as for its occasional moments of dialogue. And in many respects it offers an extremely good introduction to Bergman's work.
Like many of Bergman's films, CRIES AND WHISPERS shows the director's preoccupations with memory, communication, time, community, and death. The story is bleak: Agnes is dying and her sisters Karin and Maria have come to attend her during this final illness--but they prove unable to communicate in a meaningful way with either Agnes or each other, and Agnes' emotional care is left largely to her long-time maid, the devoted Anna.
As the film unwinds, we are bought into the memories of each woman in turn. The dying Agnes (played with powerful realism by Harriet Andersson) not only graples with increasing pain, she recalls with regret the emotional separation that existed between her long-dead mother and herself. Sister Maria (Liv Ullman), a mindless sensualist, recalls an act of adultry that has poisoned her marriage; Sister Karin (Ingrid Thulin), who is emotionally cold, recalls an act of self-mutilation designed to thwart her husband's desires. Only the maid Anna (Kari Sylwan), with a peasant's directness, actually works to be of comfort, even going so far as to cradle Agnes' head on her naked breast.
The film is ever so delicately tinged with subtle elements of lesbianism, sadomasochism, and incest, and the emotional problems experienced by Maria and Karin are at least partly sexual in nature--but these are not the focus of the film so much as they are surface indications of a deeper internal turmoil.
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This certainly gets my vote as one the most insightful films about human suffering out there. The more attentive viewer will find more wisdom herein than is to be gleaned from all the combined nonsense of quacks, of a positivist orientation, who reduce all human suffering to its physical properties under the pretense of demystifying it.

Although set at the end of the 19th century, the film deals with themes that give the work a trans-historical relevance, though like any great work of art, it requires the full investment of one's faculties if one is to prize out its insights into human suffering. Some may find it pretentious, but then again, some people find anything beyond their powers of comprehension to be either mad or pretentious, consistent with the truth that the smaller the mind, the greater the assumption of infallibility and omniscience on the part of its possessor. Such reactions, which are common amongst viewers of Bergman's films, are little more than ego-saving devices that allow the viewer to rationalize away his own incompetence. As Blake said, "that which can be made explicit to the idiot is not worth my care."

One of the things that really resonated with my own experience was the depiction of the loneliness of terminal illness, although I'm in remission. In terms of insight into this experience, the film has perhaps only been paralleled by Pialat's "La Gueule Ouverte".
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